Friday, November 13, 2009

Happy Birthday Brandeis

One of Louisville's most famous figures, Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis, was born today in 1856. About a zillion streets, buildings, stamps, and other things are named after Brandeis, including our law school (in 1997), which was founded 10 years before Brandeis was born. Brandeis also donated his scholarly works to the law library, and his ashes are buried outside the school. A few interesting facts about Brandeis from Professor Laura Rothstein:

  • Brandeis had a special affinity for animal crackers and hot donuts.
  • While researching cases, he filed documents in a bathtub at his home.
  • After finishing high school in Europe, he was admitted to Harvard Law School at age 18, and finished at age 20 with the highest grade point average in school history.
  • Brandeis was the first Jew to join the U.S. Supreme Court (appointed 1916).
  • Famous quote: "Knowledge is essential to understanding and understanding should precede judging."

Each year, law students place coins at his grave in front of the school just before final exams. According to Rothstein, the assumption is that the coins bring good luck. For more details on Brandeis, click here.

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